Below is the transcript of the presentation:
M: (The moderator explained the purpose and objectives of the discussion.) Welcome to today’s webinar on Breast Health Awareness with Dr. Wendy Warner. This webinar is sponsored by Gaia Herbs. The webinar will be recorded and available to download on demand. Our presenter today is Dr. Wendy Warner. Dr. Warner is a medical doctor board certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as integrative holistic medicine. She has been the department chair and medical director at various hospitals in Pennsylvania and is the founder and medical director of her own practice called Medicine and Balance located in suburban Philadelphia. Dr. Warner has appeared in a number of publications such as Ladies Home Journal and appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to discuss functional medicine approaches to managing menopause. We’re very happy to have Dr. Warner with us tonight and would like to welcome her to our webinar. So welcome Dr. Warner and take it away.
- Hi Tammy. Thanks very much. Well, thanks to all of you that are listening ‘cause I know that this time of year things get kind of busy and the fact that anyone’s going to take the time out of your busy week to listen just makes me really happy. You know, it is October and it’s breast cancer awareness month. That’s why we wanted to get this series started. We did realize that if there was going to be a three-piece series, we couldn’t really do October, November, December, because that’s just crazy. These are the three busiest months of the year. So that’s why we kind of spread it out a little bit. So tonight, we’re just going to be talking about general breast health awareness.
- One of the things that is sort of one of my pet peeves is the whole idea of in October when everyone’s talking about breast cancer awareness month and blah, blah, blah, they spend a lot of time talking about early detection. What I really want to talk about is prevention. Because early detection is great, but isn’t it really better if we have nothing to detect.
- I wanted to throw this disclosure slide in just for people that don’t know me. I am one of the members of the Scientific Advisor Board for Gaia Herbs. So take everything I say with a grain of salt. I’m just kidding.
- Let’s talk a little bit about breast cancer statistics in general. Because sometimes I feel as though it’s easy to lose track of reality when it comes to talking about breast cancer, especially in October. It is an important disease and it’s really scary. But let’s get realistic about what’s actually going on. Only 15% of breast cancers are diagnosed in anyone under the age of 45. Granted, these tumors tend to be more virulent; more aggressive. But the reality is younger women don’t need to be as concerned. And I think that the good news is we’ve gotten the message out there and people are more conscious of breast cancer and so they are being more careful, but sometimes, I think, we sort of over shoot and we make people crazy scared. So be realistic about what your risks actually are.
- The next statistic I really love, 80% of the time when somebody feels a breast lump, it’s not cancer. It’s not even pre-cancer. It’s just a cyst or a fibro-cystic area that has gotten a little bit larger due to inflammation and hormone changes and those sorts of things. So just because you feel a lump, although I understand it. Everybody’s heart rate goes up when that happens; 80% of the time it turns out to be nothing. That’s a good thing.
- The other thing that I find really fascinating is that if you really look at the studies, at least 70% of breast cancers are found by the patient him or herself and not by early detection or any of the studies that we do to help people try to find things early. I’m sure most of the people that are listening know at least one person who had a perfectly normal screening study done within the year and happen to be in the shower one night and found her own breast lump that turned out to be a cancer. That is actually, unfortunately, true much of the time. And I’m not going to spend any time tonight talking about the pros and cons of different screening techniques. But just be aware that it is important to be conscious of what your normal breast tissue is like and it’s normal changes with your hormones so that if anything changes, you’ll recognize it.
- Now, here’s another really important statistic that I like to hammer home to people. Eighty percent of breast cancer patients have absolutely no family history. So that can be seen as either a good or a bad light depending on how you want to look at it. You can either say, “Gosh, lots of us are at risk,” or you could say, “Yeah, okay, I understand that you have a family member with breast cancer. That does not necessarily mean that you’re going to have a problem yourself.”
- I know that when I first starting in training we weren’t quite so sure about that statistic and we were told if your mother or your aunt or your sister had breast cancer, oh my God, you’re really in trouble. Well, the reality is 80% of the time no one in your family had breast cancer.
- The other thing that we tend to think about, especially this time of year when you see pictures of people dressed in pink doing these long walks, it’s mostly women. Well, 1 in 100 breast cancer patients is a man. And a lot of us forget about that. So please keep that in mind for those of you who that have male partners and male loved ones; that they need to be conscious of this, not that it’s a huge common occurrence in men; it’s not. But overall, it’s not like they don’t exist. It’s not that breast cancer is a woman only problem.
- This is another thing that’s very interesting because, I think, most women who worry the most about breast cancer are in their 40’s and 50’s. But the reality is, the average age of diagnosis in women is 62, and in men, it’s 67. A few people have sort of quipped that if you look at the studies, if all of us lived to like 120, most of us would end up getting breast cancer. Just like if most men lived to 120, pretty much everybody would have prostate cancer. It’s just sort of one of those things. And it doesn’t necessarily say that, you know, as you’re older it’s going to kill you because the older you are, the better chance that it’s not as aggressive. But younger women tend to be really nervous about breast cancer, and the reality is the older you are, the bigger chance you have of getting the breast cancer.
- So let’s talk a little bit about true prevention, not just early detection. This involves a lot of different lifestyle changes. And yes, we’re going to talk about herbs, but I always like to talk about the rest of what you’re doing with your life because if you’re not being very careful in the rest of your life, you can take all the herbs in the world and they’re not going to be able to work as well. So we’re going to talk about everything.
- This slide show the different things that I would like to touch on – diet, I always put movement because I don’t like the word exercise. Exercise kind of makes people get their back up. So let’s just talk about movement. Sleep, stress management. We’ll talk about herbs, of course, and then the question about lymphatic flow. I’m going to touch on the whole question of underwire bras. And then exposures either from cosmetics or different environmental exposures, which is something that I think a lot of people forget about.
HOW TO EAT
- You know, what we put into our bodies is information for our cells. Yeah, I like to eat too, so don’t get me wrong. I like a good meal. But you do need to remember that what we’re feeding ourselves is basically giving our cells information about how they’re supposed to behave. So if you eat certain foods, it’s going to make a big difference in terms of hormone modulation. And when I say “modulation,” I mean just keeping it normal – not too high, not too low; keeping them balanced. So legumes – beans, lentils, all of them contain different chemicals called flavonoids that are hormone modulating. So beans and lentils are your friend. Please eat lots of them. And if you don’t really like beans very much, at least get to know hummus because it’s a great snack and it’s really healthy. Unfortunately, you need to eat the hummus with vegetables, not just pita chips. Okay.
- Now, the next thing — I don’t want people to misunderstand what I’m about to say. I am not necessarily recommending that every single person on the face of the planet needs to be gluten free. I’m not saying that. What I want you to understand, though, is that gluten grains inhibit this liver enzyme that’s part of the cytochrome P450 system. Now, that system of enzymes in the liver breakdown lots of different things. They breakdown toxins, they break down our hormones, they help us just get rid of stuff.
- Now, if the gluten grains are going to inhibit how well this enzyme works, then that means you’re not going to be breaking down your estrogen as well, so you’re going to have lots of extra estrogen floating around. And I think pretty much everybody on the call understands that lots of extra estrogen floating around for no good reason is not a particularly health state to be in when you’re concerned about breast cancer. So what you’d like to stress in your life are the non-gluten grains. – rice, millet, buckwheat, kim wah – you know, there are other things like corn and amaranth.
- It’s not to say that you should never eat gluten containing grains like wheat and barley, but if you’re really concerned about hormone modulation, you don’t want it to be a huge part of your life.
- The next point about milk – again, please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say – I’m not necessarily saying everybody should drink milk, but if you’re going to drink milk, you should know that galactose, which is milk sugar, actually has been shown to slow down ovarian production of estrodial, which I think is fascinating.
- Now, if you’re going to drink milk, it really should be, preferably raw milk, if you live in a state where raw milk is legal. I live in Pennsylvania, so we’re really lucky it’s legal here. Other states where raw milk is not legal and you can’t like sneak it over the state line, at least get organic because I’m not encouraging people to go out and drink regular conventional milk because it’s going to slow down ovarian production of estrodial. It will, but unfortunately, conventional milk also is filled with hormones that they’ve given the cows and pesticides that have been put on the grains and the feed that the cows were fed.
- So if you’re going to do milk, that’s fine. It is actually helpful. But you need to make sure you’re drinking the right kind of milk.
- So that’s just a point that I like to make because a lot of times milk gets, milk and dairy in general gets a really bad rap when it comes to breast cancer and other hormone problems.
- Now, here’s a really interesting point about insulin and estrogen. And many many people in this country are becoming insulin resistant. Now, that simply means we’re eating in such a way that our glucose is elevated a lot of the time. We’re eating a lot of starches, a lot of sugars, drinking too much alcohol, drinking too many sweetened beverages. And when you do that, it keeps your insulin up because as glucose goes up, insulin has to go up also to be able to regulate the glucose and not let it go too high. Well, if every couple of hours you’re eating something to keep glucose up, the insulin never has a chance to come down. So that can impact your estrogen level. Now, here’s the way it goes.
- There is a hormone, I’m sorry, an enzyme called aromatase that is needed to make estrogen. Estrogen gets produced from testosterone, which is, think if it as the male hormone, but we all have it. And you take testosterone, you use the enzyme aromatase, and then you get estrogen.
- Now, if you have too much insulin, that’s going to stimulate aromatase production. And if you have more aromatase, the enzyme, you’re going to be breaking down more of your testosterone and turning it into estrogen. Well that would, obviously, not be a good thing if you’re trying to avoid breast cancer.
- The next piece is that estrogen is carried on this protein called sex hormone binding globulin. That’s what SHBG stands for. And sex hormone binding globulin is this protein in our bloodstream that carries our hormones – estrogen and testosterone primarily – and it sort of binds them up so that they’re not really available for use. And then as you need them, the hormones, the proteins sort of let the hormone out so that you can use it as needed.
- Insulin decreases the amount of this protein available. So if you don’t have as much protein available to bind up the estrogen, that means more estrogen is available for the cells to see. So you functionally have excess estrogen. So really what that comes down to is if you’re worried about insulin, you need to be thinking about eating a lower fat high fiber vegetarian diet that increases sex hormone binding globulin because if you increase this protein, you’re going to bind up a lot of your estrogen to keep it in check. Now, am I necessarily recommending that every person on the face of the planet be a vegetarian? No, but this is a study that was published a long time ago in obstetrics and gynecology by a well known diabetologist, Dr. Bernhard, and the reality is if you eat this way, your hormones will be more stable. So you can take that however you like.
- Here’s another one of those feed forward loops. It is in your best interest to keep your weight at a reasonable level. And here’s why.
- Visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat that’s on the inside of your abdomen around your organs. This is not the fat that’s on the outside. So if you’ve got fat thighs, don’t worry about it. If you have a fat belly, that’s a different story.
- So visceral fat actually increases estrogen. And visceral fat also increases inflammation. The more inflammation there is, the more estrogen there is. And the more inflammation there is, the more insulin there is and the more insulin there is, the more estrogen there is. So if you can visualize this, I don’t have this thrown out as a circle, but as you can see, it basically is a feed forward loop. So the more fat you have, the more estrogen you have, the more inflammation you have, which causes more estrogen which causes more insulin which causes more estrogen, which causes more fat, which causes…and you just go forward and forward, and forward. So it is actually in your best interest to try to keep your weight under control.
- If you’re not able to get to a weight on the scale that makes you happy, at least be conscious of where your weight is. If the excess fat is in your arms and your legs, I don’t really care because that’s not the kind of fat I’m talking about. I’m talking about the fat that’s in your belly around your organs.
- I have a colleague who teaches and she always, when she talks about visceral fat vs. peripheral fat, she always says, okay, lean forward, pinch your belly fat. And if you can actually grab on to the belly fat and actually hold it, then that means it’s on the surface and it’s not around your organs. And although you’re probably not happy about it, it’s healthier than the people who go, well my belly’s big, but I can’t actually grab it. Because if you’re one of those really sort of tightly packed people, that means all the fat’s on the inside. Just to make it clear what kind of fat I’m talking about.
- Okay, enough about fat, let’s talk about boosting immunity.
- Because that was all about bad stuff, now I want to talk about good things you can do. There are a number of different foods that we can include in our diet that have been shown to improve our immune system. Because, yes, it’s important to keep your hormones under control, but it’s also real important to have a healthy immune system.
- We all have cancer cells every day in our bodies, but if our immune systems keep them under control, that’s perfectly okay because it’ll just rot them out before they have time to cause trouble.
- So everybody has heard of cruciferous vegetables. That’s the same thing as the Brassicaceae family of vegetables. This would be broccoli and cauliflower and brussel sprouts and kale and all of those other yummy greens. They contain chemicals that help us both boost the immune system and also help us metabolize our estrogen. So we actually get a two-fer in that case.
- Legumes, again, has been known to boots immunity completely in addition to helping modulate the estrogens, so this would be legumes and beans of any kind.
- Green tea. Actually, any tea is okay, but green and white tea are better at boosting immunity than black tea. The fermentation kind of decreases the beneficial properties. So green tea on a regular basis is great.
- Now, I’m just going to put it out there what I do because I’m a coffee girl. And I know that green tea is good for me and years ago I said to myself okay, it’s not a problem; I’m going to drink coffee in the morning and I’ll drink tea when I get to the office when I’m seeing patients. And I really intended to. And I never got around to it. So now, once a week, I brew up green tea, enough for the whole week, and I use that in my morning smoothie as my liquid instead of yogurt or almond milk or something. And that way I’m getting my green tea and I don’t have to think about it. So if you don’t really like green tea, use it that way. You’ll never notice it. But you’re still getting the benefit.
- Now, this is the time of year to be eating beans. They’re really lovely and wonderful and most people I know aren’t used to cooking them. They have so many different ways, multiple different ways that boost the immune system. So make them part of your life. I normally am telling people, you know, be careful about eating vegetables that grew below ground because sugar content level, blah, blah, blah. But beets are really healthy, so go for it.
- Now, any of the allium plants. So those are the onions and garlic and shallots and leeks and all of that. The sulfur containing vegetables in that category really boost the immune system well. So eat as much of that as you like. I always joke that in my house, my garlic press never makes it into the dishwasher because it gets used pretty much at every meal. So I just keep rinsing it off and putting in the drain.
- Citrus fruit of any kind are also known to boost immunity. So if you’re not really wild about eating an orange, you can throw it in your smoothie. You can put lemon in water every day. Any of the citrus fruits are really helpful. And again, if you have, if you’re going to be doing dairy products – raw milk, butter from, it was made from milk from pastured cows, not conventional cows, or ghee, which is essentially clarified butter, if it is made from milk from cows that ate grass only. They have a great deal of CLA which is a component in dairy products that can be very helpful. If you use regular conventional dairy products you’re not going to get much of that.
- Here’s a big piece that most of us don’t think about is simple eating less. Lots and lots of studies have shown that if you restrict your calories, but you still get appropriate nutrition; you don’t want to restrict calories and get malnutrition, it actually improves the function of the immune system, especially the “normal” age related decline in immunity because there is this thing out there in the research that says, well, you know, as we get older our immune system doesn’t work as well. Well, okay, that may be true of the general population, but there are things you can do to avoid that and one of it, one of the things to do to avoid it is to make sure that you just simply start eating a little bit less, as long as you are still eating a healthy balanced diet. This calorie restriction primarily is working to boost the immunity because it enhances the T-cell function, which is a particular type of the immune system. It works to kill off cells. And it’s been shown to be effective both at 10% reduction of calories, and a 30% reduction of calories. If you want reduce your calories by 30%, some of us probably could benefit by that, but the point is you only have to reduce it by 10%. That’s not a lot to get the benefit to boost the immunity. So when you think about going back to get seconds, you might want to rethink it.
- Now, probiotics and prebiotics are also extremely helpful for the immune system. Probiotics, most people have heard of. They’re a beneficial bacteria that we can get either in foods or in supplements. I want to talk about prebiotics, which a lot of people are not really as familiar with. Prebiotics are carbohydrate molecules that resist digestion and they arrive in the colon intact. These, then, in the colon, stimulate the growth and activity of the beneficial bacteria. So basically, the feed the gut. Fermentation in the gut is actually key because it acidifies the environment. It decreases, in other words, bad bacteria, and it allows the beneficial bacteria to do well. The most common prebiotics are inulin and fructooligosaccharides. That’s what FOS stands for. And these are found in really simple foods like bananas and chicory, which is an herb that grows, actually, wild where I live and it’s found, sometimes, in well there’s a medicine, but also in coffee substitutes, an allium plants – the garlic and onion and leeks and those sorts of things. Artichokes, dandelions, and interestingly human breast milk has a whole lot of inulin and FOS and that’s primarily because kids are born with no bacteria in their gut at all, so breast milk is there to help them get the right kind of bacteria in their gut. So make sure that you include these foods in your diet and it’ll help boost the immune system.
HOW TO EAT SPECIFICALLY TO IMPROVE HORMONE METABOLISM
- Now, we can also talk about how to eat specifically to improve hormone metabolism. So in other words, not making the hormones, but breaking them down correctly. Because if you’re not breaking down your estrogen correctly, then that’s just as bad because you’ve got all this hormone just sort of extra floating around causing trouble. All of the foods on this list are helpful in breaking down estrogen. Estrogen is broken down in the liver and all of these foods help do that. There are two different sort of general categories of chemical reactions that have to occur to break down estrogens and all of these foods work on one or both of those chemical processes.
- So artichokes, pomegranate, water cress, green tea again, cruciferous vegetables, Vitamin C. I always throw this in here because a lot of people think Vitamin C, they’ve got to eat oranges, and yeah, that’s good, but you know, tomatillos and kiwi, those are great sources of Vitamin C if you don’t happen to like citrus or if you’re allergic to it. And, again, onions and garlic.
- And please remember, also, that breaking down hormones takes a lot of energy, so you have to make sure that you’re getting adequate protein. Most people in this country get more than enough protein, but I do like to point that out because some people, when they’re trying to adjust their diet, they suddenly throw off how much protein they’re eating and they’re not getting enough.
- So, if you notice, many of the same foods keep popping up in different categories. So pay attention to that. You know, artichoke and green tea, cruciferous vegetables and onions and garlic. I mean those keep popping up doing multiple different things for us.
- Alright, enough about food. Let’s talk about movement or if you have to call it exercise, let’s call it exercise.
- Every single study they’ve ever done, pretty much literally, have showed that the more you move, the better your immune system works and the better balanced your hormones will be. It’s not entirely clear why that is. It may be that it has to do with circulation and that impacts your hormones and make sure that all the different hormones get to the different parts of your body that are supposed to be working. It also has been shown to improve lymphatic flow. The lymph system carries toxins away from tissue to be disposed of and that’s pretty important when it comes to cancer prevention. And it’s also been shown that exercise is the single most important thing to do to make sure your body is paying attention to your insulin. We talked earlier about how insulin can mess things up, so you want to make sure that when it comes to hormone balance, you’re keeping your insulin in line, which is probably why movement is so important.
- So get out walk, do yoga, I don’t care what you do. It doesn’t have to be gut wrenching stuff; you just need to make sure you’re not sitting at a desk all day.
- Now sleep. You know, of all the things that I talk to my patients about every day in terms of improving their health, this is the thing that people really don’t do. And I understand we’re all busy. I get that. I mean for God’s sake it’s late in the evening and you’re listening to me talk. It’s not bedtime yet for most people, but still, you’ve got to make sure you get everything done so you get to bed on time.
- Getting enough sleep is important. Keeping it dark. For those of you who live in major urban centers, it’s difficult to have a dark room because you get light coming in from outside. And also, if you’ve got a lot gadgets in your house. Have you ever walked through your house at night with all the lights off and you’ve seen all the little lights that indicate that something is turned on. You practically don’t need night lights because there are so many of them around.
- The reason it’s important to keep it dark is that the darker it is and the longer and the more appropriate time you spend getting sleep, the more you’ll produce melatonin, which is a hormone that not only helps you sleep, but it boosts your immune system. So sleep is essential. Sleep is the time where our body does repair work. And that’s when the immune system is actually the most active. Cleaning up all the mess that you made all day long in your cells.
- Alright, we’ve got to talk about stress. Stress management; this is just a 10 second comment about how cortisol, which is the main stress hormone, it negatively affects immune function.
- Pretty much everybody, if you really think about it, already knows that because how many of you out there have had a really stressful time and then you turn around and get sick about a week later and you catch a cold? We used to joke about it because in medical school, they have all of our exams all in the same day. One day when you did nothing but take exams. Well, every single one of us got sick about a week later.
- Positive emotions have been proved to improve the immune function. So for those people who don’t do a great job of stress management because you worry all the time, if you spend less time worrying and more time feeling grateful and positive, not just calm and peaceful; there’s a difference. That has been actually shown to improve the immune function that’s worked from the institute of heart health.
- Negative emotions and stress lower circulating B and T cells. These are parts of the immune system that are supposed to be working for you. It decreases the NK cell activity. These are killer cells that are supposed to be out there killing off things that are not supposed to be in your system. It lowers the amount of IGM and IGA. And what’s interesting is that interpersonal stressors are actually worst than non-personal stressors. So the stress of getting stuck in a car wreck on the way to an important business meeting isn’t going to mess with your immune system as much as having a fight with your partner. So keep that in mind as well.
- Okay, we’re going to finally talk about herbs. I just wanted you to all have that basis and kind of like live your life right. And now we’re going to add herbs to help boost things as well.
- There are a gazillion different herbs we could talk about. I don’t really have time to talk about all of them, obviously, so we’re only going to pick a few. And I’m not necessarily suggesting that every single person has to take all of these herbs, so please don’t misunderstand.
- We’ll talk about what they all do and think about it from a personal standpoint, what might work for you and what might make some more sense for your own personal health. I’m going to cover Kercumin to different medical mushrooms, [blacko hash – 31:06], astragulus, cat’s claw, and red clover.
- So let’s start with Kercumin, which comes from turmeric. Now, I could talk like a whole hour just on this one herb because it does so much amazing stuff. And I think at last count, every time I turn around and I look at the research, they come up with more things that it does and I think at last count, it has at least 30 different activities to boost the immune system and fight cancer. So I couldn’t possibly go in to everything in tonight’s talk, but I do want to point out all the different things that it does that’s pretty basic.
- It actually inhibits activation of genes that trigger cancer. So that’s pretty important. Once cancer gets started, it inhibits the spread. It’s been shown to shrink tumor cells. It prevents spread to other organs. It keeps it within one organ so that you’re at an earlier stage when you do get diagnosed. It prevents angiogenesis. Now, angiogenesis is the term for what happens when cells are rapidly dividing and you have tumor cells that are growing really fast. They start to outstrip their blood supply. So they send out chemicals to send blood vessels in to the area so that they get enough oxygen and nutrients. And Kercumin actually prevents that from happening. So, essentially, just starve the cancer, which is a cool thing.
- This also has been shown to enhance most chemotherapy regimens as well as radiation. Now you notice I say “most,” because there are a few that have been shown to be inhibited by Kercumin. So please make sure if you are ever in a position to need to be taking a chemotherapy regimen, please double check and make sure it’s alright to use Kercumin, because a couple of them, it’s contraindicated.
- Interestingly, they done a couple of studies on using Kercumin either with Tamoxifen or instead of Tamoxifen. And in one study, it worked as well as Tamoxifen in terms of prevention of recurrence. And in another study, which I didn’t mention on this slide, if you added to a Tamoxifen regimen, Tamoxifen being a drug that people take to prevent recurrence it works, it makes the Tamoxifen work better, which is pretty cool. And it has no side effects. It’s also been shown to protect against environmental damage and many of us have hormone disruption and immune issues because of environmental damage. So Kercumin is a wonderful thing.
- It comes from Turmeric. Turmeric is the spice that is really common in, primarily, Indian food. It’s fairly mild. It turns everything yellow. If you’ve ever been to a not so expensive restaurant and you’ve gotten what is “Saffron Rice,” it was actually probably Turmeric, because Saffron is real expensive. You can throw it on anything and it tastes good. You can put it into raw milk and warm it up and it makes this really lovely beverage at night. So there are lots of different ways to get Kercumin into your diet. And you can take it as a plain supplement as well, obviously.
ASIAN MUSHROOM EXTRACTS – WILD MUSHROOMS
- Many of them have been shown to boost the immune system. There are at least 30 different ones that I have research on, but we’re only going to talk about the most common ones – Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi, Oyster mushrooms or the picture that you’re looking at. And there are many others.
- Each mushroom have different components slightly, but the active component that they have in common are beta glucan, antioxidants, anti inflammatory steroids, micro flavonoids, which simple means they’re flavonoids, like what herbs have, but they’re micro flavonoids because they’re mushrooms. But they’re basically related to the same flavonoids. And glycosides. All of these components have been shown to improve immune function. And in a lot of different Asian countries, Japan and Korea, in particular, they’re actually doing research and have been doing research on using these for extracts of these mushrooms for chemotherapy rather than the chemotherapy agents that we use in this country.
- So not only can you take these as supplements, many of them you can use as food. Maitake, in this country, is also known as Hen of the Woods. Shiitakes are pretty common in Asian cuisines in particular. Reishi mushrooms grow here. You would probably not want to eat them. If you’re going to use them in food, you would want to make a stock out of them because they’re really leathery. They don’t taste very good. Any of these you can use as extracts as well.
BLACK HO HASH
- Now, most people who recognize the term “Black ho hash” think of it as an herb we use for menopausal hot flashes. And it’s good for that. But it has really good studies on using it on women with breast cancer. It’s been shown to increase apoptosis in breast cancer cells.
- Now, apoptosis is the term we use for programmed cell death. Meaning, you know, the cell has done its job and now it knows to die and let new cells take its place. That’s what’s supposed to happen. Cancer cells don’t get that. Cancer cells have forgotten how to die on time. And so part of what we want to in preventing breast cancer or treating breast cancer or any kind of cancer is to increase apoptosis to remind these cells how to die off. And black ho hash has been shown to do that. It also has some anti inflammatory activity, which is always important to a health immune system. It’s been show to increase cytoxic T-cells, which is part of the immune system that goes around and kills off cells that don’t belong there.
- And in at least one study, when you take it with Tamoxifen, it actually has been shown that Tamoxifen will work better. Now, black ho hash is one of the poor herbs that got a lot of bad press over the years. And everybody used to think that it was a bad actor and you weren’t supposed to take it because it had, you know, estrogen components. Well, that’s not true at all. It’s been very well studied. It is something that people with breast cancer should take or people that are at increased risk for breast cancer should take it because of all the different reasons we just talked about.
- Alright, astragulus. This is actually one of my favorite immune herbs. It’s common in traditional Chinese medicine. It works on many different levels to boost the immune system. It has almost no side effects. This is an herb that I actually use myself instead of flu shots and things during the winter because of how well it works against viruses, but when it comes to cancer cells, it’s been shown to increase interferon and interferon is a chemical that we make that will help boost the immune system and prevent cancer and fight off cancer that has already started,
- Astragulus has also been shown to increase B and T cell levels which are cells in the immune system that fight any kind of organism or cancer cell that doesn’t belong there. It’s been shown to improve liver function in cancer patients.
- Now, if you think about it, if you’re somebody who’s currently being treated for cancer, your poor little liver is doing an awful lot of work because it has to break down dead cells. It’s got to break down chemotherapy agents that are still hanging around. It’s got to break down components from radiation. So anything that will help improve the immune delivers chance of breaking all those things down is important, so Astragalus will help in that way.
- There’s an old study – I mean it’s 1994 for God’s sake – and it’s been shown that in the – these were all women actually; it was breast cancer. When they used Astragalus, their survival rate, I believe it was the five year survival rate, was improved by 130% and it was given in conjunction with another herb called [Plagustrum – 39:49] but this is not new news. So for those of you who are concerned about breast cancer or currently having to deal with it, this is an herb that will not only protect you but also help your body fight off a current problem.
- Look at the picture. Isn’t that cool? It makes it real obvious where that name came from because that little thorn on the plant looks exactly like my cat’s claw, which she shows me all too often.
- Now, Cat’s Claw is a general immune booster, but I like to use it a lot with cancer patients because it increases phagocytosis, which is simply your body’s ability to chew up abnormal cells, kind of like Pectin. And so you want to be able to do that well. Cat’s Claw improves that capacity. It also has both antioxidant and anti inflammatory capacity which helps the immune system work better.
- It’s been shown to increase white blood cells. I know that this is a prevention talk, but this is also important when you’re being treated for any kind of cancer. Often your white cells drop and so if you take Cat’s Claw and can actually improve the white cells and there are no side effects that are contraindicated with most chemotherapies.
- It also will – now this is only in tissue culture; this is not in a real live human being – but in a Petri dish, Cat’s Claw has been shown to prevent cancer cell proliferation. So, basically, if you get the cancer cells in the Petri dish, I just sort of sit there and I don’t really want to move on.
- It also has been shown to prevent DNA damage. So if you are in a situation where you’re concerned that because of environmental exposure, for instance, or hormonal exposure, you’re worried that your DNA is going to damage, this will help protect that and that will, obviously, lead to fewer cancers, etc. etc. And it also inhibits TNF Alpha, which is involved. You want to keep TNF Alpha at a low rate because when it goes up it worsens the immune function.
- Many people think of Red Clover more as a hormone modulator, which it does do. It contains genostain, which is a phytoestrogen. And I know that a lot of people out there get confused about, okay, if it’s a phytoestrogen is it going to act like estrogen? Does that mean I’m supposed to stay away from it? No.
- Phytoestrogens are chemicals that are found in herbs and plants and food that, yes, they have structures similar to estrogen. They don’t turn on estrogen receptors the way hormones do. So you don’t need to be worried about that. They actually help modulate hormones. Many studies have shown that when you eat a phytoestrogen rich diet, it actually kind of helps block off some of your estrogen receptors to kind of keep your own hormones under control. Think of it that way.
- Red Clover also improves lymphatic flow, and we’re going to talk in a few minutes about how important that is. And it is also a mild diuretic, which is kind of nice as well.
THINGS TO COOK WITH
- So now, those were herbs, and I’m making a somewhat arbitrary distinction between herbs and spices, but I do want to cover a few things that I would think of more as things that you cook with vs. things that you would necessarily take as a supplement. Some of them you would want to take as a supplement as well if you need higher doses. And this slide shows that it’s not 100% complete by any means, but these are all different culinary herbs and spices that are important in immune function.
- Many of them, I believe, are probably going to be familiar to most people. Rather than talk about each individual one, which would take too long, I sort of divided them up into what they do and that may help you remember how to use them.
- So many of these herbs and spices actually improve the enzymes that your liver uses to detoxify hormones. And again, you don’t want a lot of excess hormones just sort of floating around. So you want to make sure that you’re breaking it down correctly. So All Spice and Caraway, Clove, Kercumin, Dill, Ginger, and Thyme are some of the more common ones. They are easy to use. Many people have already heard of them and they already are familiar with how to use them just in your every day cooking. And some people do use these, actually, as supplements, especially the Kercumin; will take that at higher doses and sometimes they’ll take Ginger at higher doses. And not only do they help you break down your hormones, they make your food taste good.
- Anybody who’s concerned about boosting their immune system needs to keep their antioxidant capacity up. And lots and lots and lots of herb and spices do this; this is just a partial list of things that I thought people would be familiar with, like Basil, Caraway, Cardamom, and Kercumin. Notice that some of these keep coming up under different categories. Garlic, Ginger and Rosemary. These are things that are easy to cook with most of the time. You may want to take these as supplements, like the Garlic or the Ginger. But often, you can just use them in your everyday cooking, and that will help just on a general day to day basis, protect you against free radicals and keep your antioxidants up.
CINNAMON, GINGER, AND SAFFRON
- You know, if you’re particularly concerned about the growth of cancer cells, these three are common herbs and spices that have been shown to decrease blood flow to cancer cells. Cinnamon, Ginger, and Saffron. Now, those are pretty easy to work with. Throw your cinnamon in your coffee. Throw your cinnamon on your oatmeal. Saffron is kind of expensive, but you know, it doesn’t take very much. Ginger is easy to work with as well. So these are foods and supplements that you can use simply to make sure that the cancer cells don’t get any blood flow. If they don’t get blood flow, they can’t keep growing.
- Let’s talk for a minute, also, about lymphatic flow. You know, the lymphatic system is one that runs parallel to the circulatory system, the blood flow. And it is busy taking break down products and dead cells and spent white cells back into your heart to get dumped in to the liver to get dumped and in the spleen to get dumped and sort of recirculated. So lymphatic flow is really important. And there are a bunch of different things that keep your lymphatic flow moving. There are many different herbs, and I’ve listed some here like Black Walnut, Blood Root, Burdock; a lot of others. Most of these you’re going to want to take as a supplement rather than actually eating them. Although, dandelion makes a great salad and a great drink that kind of tastes like coffee, sort of.
- One of the things that’s really interesting when you look at this list, if you know anything about the plants that grow, the weeds that grow near where you are, many of these are Reed’s. So you might want to know how to forage them for yourself if you can’t actually, you know, get them at the health food store.
- In addition to herbals that will keep our lymphatic moving, any kind of exercise and movement will also keep the lymphatics moving.
- Lymphatics don’t…the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump the way that the heart has a pump for the circulatory system. And the thing that keeps lymphatics moving are the blood vessels, I’m sorry, are the muscles around the lymphatics themselves. So if you’re trying to pump the lymphatic flow up from your feet, you have to have your calf muscles moving and your leg muscles moving and your ankle muscles moving. So you’ve got to get up and move.
- Now, I have to make a comment about underwire bras. And this is not 100% scientific. There are a couple of small studies that have not been 100% conclusive, but this is just sort of common sense.
- I don’t have a picture of where the lymphatics are around the breast, but basically, if you think of the breast as being more or less a circle – it’s really more like a pear with a little top of the pear going up into the armpit – the lymphatics run along the sternum, so on the inside edges of either breast, and then under the breast, and then around the outside, back up in to the armpit. And there are lots of lymph nodes in the armpit.
- Okay, think about it. Where are the underwires in an underwire bra? Right on top of your lymphatics. So theoretically, if you’re putting a lot of pressure right there, are the lymphatics going to be able to do their job very well? No. So I’m not necessarily saying you should not own an underwire bra. I’m just saying you should probably not wear one every single day. Save it for special occasions. Save it for that outfit that really requires the girls to look perky. Otherwise don’t go there because it’s just asking for trouble.
- And if you do have to wear them, feel really strongly about keeping one on, there is a technique that you can do after you take it off to improve the flow where you simply just do massage along the area where the lymphatics run so that you sort of help move things up into the armpit and out of the way.
- So, okay, that’s my political comment about underwire bras and somebody, a patient of mine told me the other day – I don’t remember if it was this week or last week – but it was free the ta-ta’s day and everybody was supposed to go bra-less. I think there were all kind of odd comments made about that on Facebook.
COSMETICS AND ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURES
- Now, I do need to make a comment about cosmetics and other environmental exposures. Because we think a lot about our genes. We think a lot about bad food. But many of us don’t really think too much about what happens with the environmental exposures that we have in terms of how bad that is for our immune system. And I hate to say this, but many of us put nasty stuff on our skin every single day that are called cosmetics.
- Now, I’m not saying you should not wear makeup, but I’m saying you should be very conscious of what you’re putting on your skin. Anti-aging products have hormone disrupters in them. Skin lighteners; so as you’re getting older, you’re getting your little pigmented spots; those skin lighteners have hormone disrupters in them.
- Hair dye. I’m really sorry guy, but yeah; I know that a lot of people don’t like gray hair, but any; there’s not anything on the market that is actually safe. There are many many things that are now being marketed as organic, that’s probably true. They are organic. That doesn’t mean they’re safe. So, please, like watch the marketing language.
- Hair straighteners. This is, frankly, one of those things that I really find funny. Because if you think about it, women with straight hair want to put perms in, and women with curly hair want to straighten it. So why can’t we just be okay with the hair we have? But at any rate, many of the things, the products that are used to do the hair straightening – that you put the product on then you use the iron at like 450 degrees so you break down all the proteins in the hair to make it straight?
- The straighteners are cancer causing. I mean there are things like formaldehyde in them. So you really don’t want to use those.
- Many many many makeups, different, anything with pigment; it’s very difficult to find makeup that is 100% safe.
- And then, obviously, when it comes to just environmental exposures, there are lots of other things that will damage your immune system, but for hormone disruption in particular, there’s an issue with BPA and cans and plastics. And I think that many people are familiar with this idea. If you’re not quite sure if the can – first of all, you shouldn’t be eating a lot of food that comes from cans. You want to be eating fresh. But if you’re going to be eating like canned beans or canned tomatoes, if you dump the food out and you look inside the can and it looks white, instead of metallic, it’s line with BPA. So you really don’t want to buy that brand anymore. And many companies are marketing, you know, they’ll have a little label that says BPA free. And you really want to do that.
- There’s a note for a website on this page that is EWG.org skin deep. Skin deep is a section for the environmental working group which is a great nonprofit that is wonderful about getting information out about the environment and issues around immune problems. And they have an entire section of their website called skin deep where you can literally look up your own personal healthcare products and see how bad they are or how good they are for you; whichever the case may be.
- So I would encourage you to go look things up. And if they’re on the, “Oh my God this is horrible list,” please switch.
- Okay. In summary, I’ve gone through an awful lot of detail and I don’t want anybody to feel completely overwhelmed by, oh my God, how am I going to be able to take a million different herbs. I don’t want you to feel like that. These are the basics that most of us can manage. If you eat in a way that you’re eating primarily whole foods, not processed stuff, and it’s a low glycemic load, meaning, it’s not going to affect your glucose and insulin levels very much. That’s pretty healthy.
- I used to spend a lot of time trying to teach people how to read ingredient lists, ingredient labels, and now I don’t do that anymore. I just tell them eat foods that don’t have a label. That way you don’t have to worry about. I know you’re eating a whole food that way.
- The other thing that’s important to remember to do is move every day. I talk to people who are really proud of themselves because they go to the gym twice a week. And that’s cool. But what do you do the other five days? Because most of us have pretty sedentary lives. So do something. Take a walk. Move around your office. Get a walking/standing desk, but move every day.
- Learn to deal with your stress in a healthier way. That’s a whole other hour long conversation. But that’s a piece that many of us are not very skillful at.
- And then when it comes to herbs and spices, find the things you love and that work for you. Use lots of spices in cooking. And the ones that are probably the easiest to get to know are Turmeric, which is where Kercumin comes from, Ginger, Cumin and Cinnamon. Because these four herbs and spices are found in many different cuisines, so depending on how you mix and match them, you can be talking Indian food, Mexican food, or Asian food. So yes, eat healthy wholesome foods, but throw a bunch of spices in because not only will it taste better, but you’ll get some boost for your immunity as well.
- Now, individualized, what kind of herbs you use as supplements for prevention, but the ones I would probably kind of say, pretty much anybody could use and it wouldn’t really cause trouble because they don’t have much in the way of side effects and they’re healthy for pretty much everybody is Kercumin, Astragula, and mushroom extract. There are many other herbs that you can use that you may need to look in to depending on your own individual situation. But these are some that would be pretty basic and across the board for everybody.
- I have to make a comment about supplements and where you get them because it really kind of drives me crazy when I spend some time educating people about the kind of supplements and herbs to get and they go out and they just buy the cheapest thing because often the cheapest thing is, well, you know, you get what you pay for. There are things that you need to look for. You will not find good quality herbs in every brand. So you need to make sure, first of all, that the formulation and the dosage is actually right. I am always amazed at how many herbal companies have recommended dose that is absolutely no where close to what you need. And in general, it’s a lot lower than what you need.
- I also want to make sure that the ingredient that they say is in there actually is the ingredient that they say is in there. Sometimes herbs look alike and the wrong herb gets picked, and if you don’t use validate methods to actually prove that the herb is what you say it is, you can be fooled and some companies just do it on purpose.
- You want to also make sure that you started with a potent ingredient and that the process that they used actually ends up a potent product. And they ensure that it is pure, and make sure there is evidence for safety and efficacy for the intended use that you want to use the plant for. Not all brands are going to be able to show this. So, if you’re really being a picky consumer, these are things that you might want to ask the supplement manufacturers. And a good supplement manufacturer should be able to answer all of these questions. And if you don’t get an answer, it’s usually because they don’t want to answer. So keep that in mind.
- I think it’s real important that they, that companies either grow their own or they get them directly from the grower, because that way they know exactly how to track where the herbs came from and how they’d been exposed and what they’d been exposed to.
- Again, ask the company how do you validate the raw material? Is it the right plant? Are the organic? If you have to get them from the wild, do you do it in a way that you’re not going to damage the plants that are growing in the wild? I mean you don’t want to go into an area and pick every single one of the plants because there goes your chance of reproducing plants.
- You also want to watch about what they use to extract the herbs and all of these various different potency validities and that sort of thing.
- So ask questions of the supplement manufacturers because more than likely if you try to ask the folks at the health food store, they may not be able to answer it. And, again, the manufacturer should be able to answer them. If you don’t get an answer, then take that to be a bad sign.
- So, I want to thank you very much for your attention. I want you to remember, if you don’t remember anything else I said tonight, that it’s really important to act to prevent breast cancer rather than simply catch it in the early stages. And I’m hoping that at least some of what I talked about this evening has helped you focus on the good stuff and not the scary stuff.
- So, again, thanks very much.
M: Alright. Thanks so much Dr. Warner. And thanks to everyone for attending tonight. And we want to remind you that there are two more parts to this webinar series. The next one is November 19th, so if you’re interested and haven’t already signed up, please do register for the next one on November 19th. So we hope to see you again. Thanks again, and thank you Dr. Werner.
- Good night.
(THE GROUP WAS CONCLUDED.)